PSL ti­tle race wide open: Ak­bay

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ricky Zililo

HIGH­LANDERS coach Erol AK­bay has scoffed at crit­ics that have ruled the Bu­l­awayo giants out of the Cas­tle Lager Premier Soc­cer League ti­tle race, say­ing the cham­pi­onship is wide open.

The Dutch­man, whose side brought their six-match win­less streak to an end with a 2-0 win over How Mine last week cour­tesy of goals by Erick Mudz­ingwa and Allen Ga­hadzikwa, will be hop­ing Bosso com­pletes a dou­ble over Bor­der Strik­ers and keep up with the log lead­ers.

High­landers trail lead­ers FC Plat­inum by eight points and the plat­inum min­ers’ 1-1 draw against Chicken Inn has given Ak­bay some hope.

“I think the cham­pi­onship is not done yet and chances are still open for ev­ery­body. FC Plat­inum and Caps United have also dropped points in the last few matches, which shows that the race is still open. Even the club in 12th po­si­tion with 27 points can go to the top if they win four or five games and those above drop points,” said Ak­bay.

High­landers, who have 35 points from 21 out­ings, are five points be­hind sec­ond-placed Caps United.

The Bu­l­awayo giants should ex­pect a tight game against ta­ble an­chors Bor­der Strik­ers, who are hard to beat at home. Strik­ers are fight­ing for survival and proved to be gi­ant killers a few weeks ago when they beat Dy­namos 2-1 at Dulivhadz­imu Sta­dium. High­landers are not un­der­es­ti­mat­ing their op­po­nents.

Sus­pended util­ity player and Bosso stand-in cap­tain Erick Mudz­ingwa urged his team­mates to “crush” Strik­ers, say­ing the so-called small teams al­ways raise their game when they face big guns.

“The guys can’t af­ford to be com­pla­cent and need to bury Bor­der Strik­ers be­cause such teams al­ways give us prob­lems. Re­mem­ber we strug­gled to beat them 2-0 in the first leg and what the guys need to do is crush them early and con­cen­trate through­out the game,” said Mudz­ingwa.

He is among the seven play­ers that will miss this week­end’s ac­tion af­ter ac­cu­mu­lat­ing three yel­low cards.

With Mudz­ingwa out, ei­ther Dou­glas Sibanda or Peter Muduhwa will be as­signed the de­fen­sive mid­fielder du­ties, with Felix Chin­gungwe com­ing in to part­ner Tendai Ndlovu in cen­tral de­fence.

Ga­hadzikwa, Si­mon Mu­nawa, Rah­man Kut­sanzira and Brian Banda will be ex­pected to pro­vide scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for strik­ers Prince Dube and Kasimero Chim­badzwa.

Cham­pi­onship favourites FC Plat­inum make the long trip to Kariba for a date with ZPC Kariba.

It’s a tricky en­counter for Nor­man Mapeza and his plat­inum boys, who lost the first leg 1-2 in June at Man­dava Sta­dium.

ZPC Kariba are fourth with 34 points, nine be­hind FC Plat­inum, and are the cham­pi­onship dark horses.

At Lu­veve Sta­dium to­mor­row, How Mine will be hop­ing to re­cover from their shock 0-2 loss to High­landers when they take on rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Tsholot­sho.

Erol Ak­bay

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